Brief Functions of Memory Unit in Computer Systems


The MMU, or memory management unit, is a component that provides the CPU with its primary interface to a computer's memory. The MMU serves a number of functions designed to facilitate both enhanced security and to simplify memory interaction for programmers.

Virtual and Physical Address Translation

  • In some systems, the MMU handles the conversion from the virtual memory addresses handled by the CPU to the physical addresses of memory in the hardware.

Virtual Address Space

  • The MMU and a supporting operating system may use virtual address spaces as a form of security by giving each running program an isolated section of memory in which to run.

Virtual Addresses

  • In addition to security, virtual addresses are used as a form of hardware abstraction to make the use of virtual memory as transparent as possible to programmers.

Cache Control

  • To balance the cost of high speed memory and the time spent by the CPU waiting for memory output, a number of caches of varying sizes and speeds exist. On most systems, at least a few of these caches are coordinated by the MMU.

Bus Arbitration

  • Communication between different components of a system occurs over a set of wires called the system bus. Since all devices must use the same bus, and simultaneous transmission is impossible, the MMU works to arbitrate access to the system bus.


  • Photo Credit "The Cup of Yes and No (RAM)" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: dailyinvention (Stefan) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.
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